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U Students Get In On Homelessness Discussion

Zhenikeyev via

University of Utah students got a chance to sit down with advocates and elected officials Tuesday to learn more about Salt Lake City’s ongoing homeless problem and how they can get involved. The meeting was one of Bennion Community Service Center’s Issues and Action forums that help students get involved in local issues.

Sophomore Michaela Lemen says when she read the news that Utah had virtually ended chronic homelessness, by putting people in housing, she thought the problem was solved.

“I was really happy about that,” Lemen says. “I was like yay! I actually wrote a paper on it.”

But Lemen was deflated to learn that while the state did help a small subpopulation of people get housing, the overall number of people seeking shelter was actually up.

“So it was really interesting to hear from people who are actually on the ground and participating in the homelessness issues here in Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County about how, yes it was technically true, but we still have a long way to go,” Lemen says.

The meeting comes as Salt Lake City and County are hyper focused on getting people off the streets and in treatment.  The city has missed three deadlines that were set to announce the locations of four new shelters. Salt Lake City Councilman Charlie Luke says those locations have been chosen.

“I hope that what we’ll be able to demonstrate once the sites are announced, we’re not talking about replicating what people are seeing on 5th west and Rio Grande,” Luke says.

Luke says the city is still in the process of signing contracts, but the decision should be announced soon. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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